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Sounding the past

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The project. This never acquired or needed a clever title: it was known simply as Music and Verse for Film. It was an experiment in linking music and poetry to archive films, not only to provide an enhancing accompaniment but, in some cases, with the aim of making something new which would quite profoundly change the way that these films were perceived by audiences. It was also an experiment in partnership.

The music. Decisions had to be taken as to whether the music for these three silent films should aspire to what one might call ‘gestural synchronicity’ in the modern sense, or whether the stylistic restrictions current at the time of the films’ production should be replicated. It was not a difficult decision to take. It seemed obvious that since a primary purpose of the project was to introduce these films to modern audiences, a more modern use of music (with due care for stylistic references) should be employed.

The poem. It is interesting, and somewhat disappointing, to note how seldom verse has been used as film narrative. It was not until the 1990s that British television viewers were to witness the experiments of the BBC producer Peter Symes, notably in collaboration with Tony Harrison, in a series of powerful documentaries on powerful, important and often diffi- cult subjects.

Keywords: documentary narrative; gestural synchronicity; modern audiences; music in film; poetry in film; stylistic references

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1386/jmpr.4.1.41/0

Affiliations: 1: Trilith 2: Bournemouth University 3: Bournemouth Media School

Publication date: March 1, 2003

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